– Hello and first of all, thanks for taking the time. How is everything going right now with LANCER? What are you currently up to?
Hello Tania, everything is great. I’m a little bit disappointed because there was supposed to be an eclipse of the sun today, but the weather sucked, we had rain and clouds everywhere so I didn’t see anything at all. I think that the next time will be in 30 years or something, haha, that sucks. With that said, everything is going smooth with the band, we are rehearsing for the release show that will be in our hometown Karlstad together with our friends in KATANA.
– You have just released your sophomore album, aptly entitled «Second Storm». How are you feeling about it?
Well, it’s some days left until the release date. But since I daily talk to journalists across the world who’ve already heard the new record it feels great to finally get some reactions. It’s an album that we are very proud of. The songs are great, the band sound great, it looks ridiculously cool and the production is perfect.
– I guess a first album might be more of a learning experience and finding your own sound. Is what we hear now on «Second Storm» something closer to the idea you had of the album?
Hopefully the whole career is a learning experience in finding a sound. Find new ways to get the result even better the next time. When I listen to our debut I hear many things that I wouldn’t do today, when I listen to Second Storm there’s just some minor details thats annoying. That’s how it is, no one will think about it, but when you know what you had in mind it’s harder to let it go. I guess that’s the life of every career, if you’re a painter, writer or a football player. Take a look at your work, learn from your mistakes, do better next time. I will never write the absolute 100% perfect LANCER album, and that’s the fun part of this business, you’re never complete. You have to be better and better all the time.
– Starting to dwell into this album, what could you comment on the cover artwork and its meaning?
The album cover combines a lot of stories from the songs, the sun explosion in the background is the blast of «Aton», the robots on the ground are slayed by a Steelbreaker. The building to the left is a fortress from Iwo Jima and the walls of Gomorrah is to the right to name a few. I really love the artwork, Dimitar Nikolov who painted it truly nailed it, the ostrich really looks dreadful and terrifying. In the song Steelbreaker I’m singing about a wicked creature, a metal monstrosity, so we pictured a robotic cyber ostrich in our heads. What Dimitar created was beyond our wildest imaginations.
– Once more lyrics deal with different themes but, what do some of the lyrics on the album deal with and what did inspire them?
I get inspired by many things, it can be something on the news, a documentary I’ve seen, a movie or some theme that gets me going. It’s not a concept album, just some really good metal songs each with their own story. For example, we wanted to write a 10 minute epic song on this album, and what is more epic than an Egyptian god? Aton is a really powerful name, it sounds heavy and majestic. There is so much magic and secrecy hidden in these old stories, so I guess that’s why pretty much every storytelling heavy metal band got some connection to the ancient gods. The bible is also a book full of crazy stories, Behind the Walls is about God’s wrath over Sodom and Gomorrah. Another typical heavy metal theme is war, we wanted to do a song about the island of Iwo Jima, and since Sabaton haven’t picked that battle yet, we had to go for it. It’s not glorifying at all, it’s a sad hymn for all the fallen soldiers who died on that godforsaken island. In Fools Marches On the theme of the song is mankind’s never-ending warfare. Every time I put on the news, there is cruelty and violence everywhere. In every corner of the world, there is fear, hate and terror. New armies are always on the march. All of these idiots and all of this hate will always be a part of this planet, and that fact really makes me angry and sad. This is 2015, and sometimes it feels that we haven’t learned anything from history. I wrote the lyrics to remind me that it’s never too late, we must continue to speak up for human rights and continue to spread a positive message to bring justice to the world. Because this place is really fucked up, but somehow, I still believe in a brighter future. I think that lyrics should be well written and have real substance, not just be about glory and dragons of thundering victory. In power metal there are so many good songs with crappy lyrics. The lyrics is important in my point of view, and it’s also important that all the words blend together with the melodies.
– This has been your first opus with Despotz. How are things working? They have a great worlwide coverage I think.
When we were choosing label for this new record Despotz Records were one of our favorites, a label that really puts effort and believing in new upcoming bands. It’s great that their office is in Stockholm as well. They’re not a pure metal label, they are collaborating with artist from other genres which gives them a wider spectra in the music industry. With Despotz we have daily contact and everything works really smooth so far, exiting times for sure.
– Musically, how do you think has LANCER evolved since your debut album came out?
The music is still the same, maybe a little bit heavier than before. This album is a bit darker, there are no major key choruses at all on this album. It’s what every album should sound like, everything should be better than the previous. We’re two years older and have played together pretty much every day since we recorded the last album. We’ve learned a lot on the way, we’re better songwriters, muciscians and arrangers. That evolves the sound a lot.
– I personally think you have followed the same path making your trademarks stronger, but at the same time this record sounds heavier. Was this how you envisioned the album or did just let things go their own way?
Yes exactly, well, one main goal was to get the production more modern. Our first album had a cool 80’s inspired sound, now we wanted to take this music to this date, the production is also a main factor that makes this album sound much heavier than our debut. Apart from that our goal was to write better songs than before, we were adding some darker themes on some songs, that just happened. I really like when power metal bands are balancing on the edge of the evil and cheerful sound.
– Production once more is just superb, but if I’m not mistaken you have changed the production team. How was this process like this time around?
With the first record we had a quite tight deadline and the album had to be ready in a few days. I think that Tommy (Reinxeed) and Ronny (ShadowQuest) mixed and mastered the album in a couple of days, they did a great job, under the circumstances. This time we had a lot of time in the studio. Learning from our mistakes we didn’t want any upper pressure at all. We wanted the record to be finished before we contacted any label, to avoid any unpleasent deadline. We had worked with Gustav from Leon Studios before, recording the «Purple Sky EP”, so we knew that he was the right guy for us this time. He was involved at an early step, visiting us in the rehearsal room and giving us feedback on the songs. Gustav is truly fantastic, very kind, a great musician and producer.
– Is impressive how keeping similar song structures you haven’t had a single filler on the album, always with a strong focus on catchy choruses and big choirs. Due to this I would like to know how did you work on the songwriting process.
Thanks a lot, we try to have all the songs as good as possible, of course some of them becomes better than we expect, which makes other songs seem a little bit pale. But our main focus is to write cool songs with interesting themes and great vocal melodies. It’s important to have balance between the songs, so that every song got a certain feeling. Aton for example is very majestic and Behind the Walls is more wild and fierceful. There are some songs like Children of the Storm that has a Brittish heavy metal sound other songs like Steelbreaker that is a typical German heavy metal song. Some songs were written during the release of our first album. Some songs were written later that year. I guess that the whole album was written in a couple of months. Most of the songs are written in privacy. That’s how I like to work, after a song is written I show it to the guys and I either get thumbs up or thumbs down. Fredrik is also a main songwriter and he is sending me songs and I’m adding the vocal lines. We use to have a certain sound in our heads when we start to arrange the songs, but everyone in the band is very involved in the arrangement and the detail work of each song. Everyone adds their special thing which brings something extra to the result. We’re not working on the songs at all in the studio, everything should be written and decided into detail in the rehearsal room before hitting the studio. In that way you don’t loose anything when you play the songs live, the songs are written to be performed by five musicians. As I told you we involved our producer Gustav early on in the arranging process, joining in the rehearsal room. If someone gets an idea we want to feel it and play it all together, let it sink in.
– You even have a certain epic tone. When listening to the album it feels like you really know what you want to do and how you should do it. Do you have your ideas clearer now with this second opus?
Most of the lyrics are very storytelling, and I’m using my voice to bring the listener into a storytelling mode. And we try to create music that fits the lyrical theme as much as possible, to maintain the feeling of the song. For example «Eyes of the liar» is a horror story about a guy with split personalities, the band sounds really scary on that song. We have worked a lot with the songs on this album and we had very settled ideas for each song, so yes we knew exactly how we wanted to sound on this record.
– All this about «Second Storm» being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Power Metal Reincarnation
– On the press release you are compared to SABATON, but I think you are way more traditional, more 80’s/90’s sounding, not modern or too epic. So what have been the most influential bands for LANCER?
Sabaton is great, and as you said, their sound is more modern with a lot of keys and Joakim’s voice takes them pretty away far from the traditional power metal sound. It’s pretty clear that we’re most inspired by 80’s Iron Maiden, early Helloween, early Edguy and Gamma Ray. We like the melodic sound with cool vocal lines and thundering drums.
– In fact you are hailing from Sweden, a country with a lot of music and also a great haven for different Metal subengenres, from Death to Thrash or Heavy Metal, but it doesn’t seem to be much Swedish bands into your style. Is this way easier for a band like you to stand out?
We had a great power metal scene in Sweden when I was younger. I guess that Sweden was one of the most successful nations in power metal back then, with bands like HammerFall, Nocturnal Rites, Lost Horizon and Dream Evil to name a few. I think that this kind of music is coming back, Bloodbound for example released their best album since their debut, HammerFall is also back on the old path. We’re not so many though, and that puts us in a interesting position on the market.
– And finally, what are some of your near-future plans?
Most important is to get out and show the audience that we sound this good even live, show everyone that LANCER is a great live act. We’re now working on some dates here in Sweden, and hopefully we will bring these shows abroad. The songwriting process for our third album is also proceeding, so there are a lot of things going on.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
I would like to hail all the metalheads in Spain for the warm welcome of the Second Storm, well, I’ve only been talking to the Spanish journalists so far and they were very excited, I hope that the masses will appreciate this album as well.